FIG Working Week 2000, 21-26 May, Prague

Internet in Education - Practical Experience

by Aleš Čepek and Josef Hnojil

Key words: Internet, higher education, practical experience.



The most of teachers in all types of education levels face with innovations in teaching and learning which are often denoted as computer-assisted teaching (CAT) and computer-based learning (CAL).

Computer and information technologies surround us in our whole life. The same situation is in the branch of geodesy and cartography which is also fully computerized. We would like to show examples and evolution of computers and Internet usage in teaching and learning in this branch. First of the authors has been already teaching computer oriented subjects for seven years, so we can follow all the computer-based enhancements in education with him.

Evolution - how it was, how it is

The first regular seminar about Internet services started in the end of year 1993. There was not World Wide Web service - the Internet consisted of textual documents and few pictures. Both teachers and students were experiencing a new technology. At this place it must be said that from the first moment Internet was seen as another but powerful working tool. The power of the Internet is in communication, collaboration and cooperation. Emphasis in Internet and informatics lessons must be on process and strategy not on destinations and techniques.

As the consciousness of the Internet was coming wider we included the Internet lessons as part of informatics lessons in the first year of graduate studies. Computers are used in almost all lessons as a working tool. We established electronic mailing lists for some lessons (programming, informatics and databases) so the students have another forum for discussing professional topics and problems. The main problem is that students still miss the need for sharing their knowledge as it is common at other (mostly West European and American) universities. They do small steps and the frequency of messages in the electronic mailing lists is increasing every year.

As the World Wide Web service widespread we started to put some course materials (abstracts, literature, homeworks, etc.) on-line. The potential of the WWW is at 24-hour access to documents.

In some seminars students are encouraged to write a paper about selected topics. They must use information sources - instead of drilling down the facts they practice finding useful information in libraries, thematical databanks and on the Internet. For most of them it is the first attempt to write their own technical paper in which they can express their own ideas.

There were more changes last year. First, we started to put annotations of diplomas on-line to our web site. Second, we started to develop Open Source project called GaMa (Geodesy and Mapping). The main objective is the development of public on-line service for adjustment of geodetic 2D networks; our students are involved in the project.

Future plans and expectations

We would like to see more intensive usage of modern information technologies in our branch in the near future. For this purpose the branch information strategy needs to be developed because a non-coordinated application of computers and information technologies would depreciate high status of the branch. We are optimistic that it will be realized.

Aleš Čepek and Josef Hnojil
Department of Mapping and Cartography
Faculty of Civil Engineering
Czech Technical University in Prague
Thákurova 7
CZ-166 29

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